Tuesday, 3 February 2009

When bad things happen to good knitting

I finished my February Lady sweater!

On January 30th. Just in time to wear my sweater in February. And I was so excited. Until I tried it on. And it looks horrible. To be more accurate, it looks horrible on me.

I still love the pattern. It’s well written - easy to understand and follow. It’s nice that it is so flexible that it should be able to fit anyone by doing a few more rows here, or a few less repeats of the gull lace pattern there. And as I mentioned before, it was a very quick knit. This sweater took me less time (three weeks) than the Twisted Tree (five weeks) which was half the size. Best of all about this pattern? There is no sewing. I’m horrible at stitching pieces together. I really like patterns that have as little sewing as possible.
So, all in all, I’d rate the pattern 5/5 and would recommend it to anyone who likes the design.

So after that glowing review, how did I go wrong? Blocking… Blocking, blocking, blocking.
I’ve only blocked twice before. You don’t really need to do it for mittens, hats, scarves, afghans, etc, although you can. It’s never been necessary before, so I didn’t do it. I blocked two of the sweaters that I made, with okay results. As in, I didn’t really notice a difference. For this sweater I tried to block it to make the body slightly longer and to open up the YO holes, but I made a horrible mistake while doing it. I was so worried about making the sweater longer that I didn’t think about the fact that I was pulling the sweater wider.
So when I tried the sweater on after I blocked it, it just hung there looking way too big and totally wrong. The chest was too loose and the sleeves too long.
On the bright side, the body length was just right.
Okay - that’s not much of a condolence. But at least it’s something.

So, after trying to figure out on my own what to do (and coming up with nothing), I turned to an expert: my bestest friend’s mom. (Trust me. She’s an expert.) After a 30 minute call where we discussed the pattern, my mistakes and the yarn, I was given a plan for how to fix it and I think it’s working.
Starting with the back, and very carefully pining it to the right width dimensions (while keeping the length I like) I’m steaming/ironing the sweater. I have a towel between the iron and the sweater. The steaming is a very slow process, but I think that it has shrunk the pattern. Once done, I was told to let it sit for a whole 24 hours pinned to exactly the dimensions I want. After the back, I’m doing each side with another 24 hour wait. (At least, this is what I understood from the instructions I was given.)
To me, the novice blocker, this seems just a little bit like inverse blocking. Instead of stretching it to the right dimensions and pinning it, I’m pinning it to the right dimensions and using heat to shrink it back down.
But hopefully it will work. I’ll let you know.

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